The Straight Take
So, this guy comes into the bookstore late yesterday morning. He’s with three teenaged daughters (I’m assuming) and the lot of them are as flamboyantly straight as they could be. He’s wearing a muscle T-shirt with some kind of rebel-motorcycle slogan on it and the little dames are all Daisy Duked and wearing make-up and false eyelashes — on a Saturday morning for chrissakes!
He asks if we sell the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and I say, “Yeah, sure, they’re right outside the door on the rack.”
He says, “No they aren’t,” and points toward the rack. Sure enough the danged thing is empty. I hadn’t even realized we’d sold out so early in the day.
“Huh,” I go, “I guess everybody wanted them for their front pages.” And this is true. We even sold out of the Herald Times (and we almost never do). Its front page, like the NYT’s and the WSJ’s, was the US Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision from top to bottom. One couple came in and bought a pile of H-Ts because their pastor was on the cover, celebrating the landmark decision.
The muscle-T guy, though, looks at me as if I’m from the moon. He cocks his head and asks, “Well, what’s the big deal about their front pages?”
Now I cock my head. There are days when you just know what’s on the front page of the newspaper. The day after the 2008 election, f’rinstance, or July 21st, 1969. People kept their papers from those days. I did. I still have them stashed away somewhere in the garage.
“Um, er, y’know, the same-sex marriage decision came down yesterday,” I explain. I try not to sound as though I’m didacting to a six-year-old who’s asking why the moon doesn’t fall out of the sky.
See, kid, it’s all about angular momentum and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion. The way it works…, uh, look, it just doesn’t, okay?
The guy gives me a look like, Hey, pal, I know that.
Natch, now I really start sounding like a didact. “When a momentous event takes place, people like to have a keepsake of it, something that will remind them of the history of the thing years from now.” Sheesh, I may as well be Julius Kelp.
“Actually, We Retain Mementos Of Benchmark Occurrences….”
The guy sniffs. “Yeah, that’s what I mean.” As if to say What kind of pussy would want a keepsake of fag and dyke marriage. He actually smirks at me.
I shrug. My mind for a hot minute is a raging battleground between the Bad Me who wants to say, How should I know? I’m not one of them! and the Good Me who’s dying to shout, Go fuck yourself, pal!
The Bad Me’s learned reaction to want to betray all my same-sex-loving friends and family and the muscle-T guy’s desire to belittle fags and dykes — these are two good reasons why Friday’s decision was so breathtakingly necessary.
Actually, we’ve still got a long way to go.